Garbage collection is an automatic memory management feature in many modern programming languages, such as Java. JIRA was built using Java platform thus, using this function.
Garbage Collection (GC) is the systematic recovery of pooled computer storage that is being used by JIRA when JIRA no longer needs the storage. This frees the storage for use by other programs (or processes within JIRA). It also ensures that a program using increasing amounts of pooled storage does not reach its quota (in which case it may no longer be able to function).
It's not actually a JIRA function, JIRA is just showing you what the java virtual machine is doing. http://www.oracle.com/webfolder/technetwork/tutorials/obe/java/gc01/index.html is worth a quick read (especially the "describing garbage collection" bit
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